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The flexibility of nonconsciously deployed cognitive processes: evidence from masked congruence priming.

Finkbeiner M, Friedman J - PLoS ONE (2011)

Bottom Line: For example, in tasks with a limited number of targets, subliminal priming effects are limited to primes that are physically similar to the targets.Findings such as these have led researchers to conclude that task-level properties can direct nonconscious processes to be deployed exclusively over central (semantic) or peripheral (physically specified) representations.If the source of the masked priming effect were exclusively central or peripheral, then both novel and repeated primes should yield similar patterns of priming.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. matthew.finkbeiner@mq.edu.au

ABSTRACT

Background: It is well accepted in the subliminal priming literature that task-level properties modulate nonconscious processes. For example, in tasks with a limited number of targets, subliminal priming effects are limited to primes that are physically similar to the targets. In contrast, when a large number of targets are used, subliminal priming effects are observed for primes that share a semantic (but not necessarily physical) relationship with the target. Findings such as these have led researchers to conclude that task-level properties can direct nonconscious processes to be deployed exclusively over central (semantic) or peripheral (physically specified) representations.

Principal findings: We find distinct patterns of masked priming for "novel" and "repeated" primes within a single task context. Novel primes never appear as targets and thus are not seen consciously in the experiment. Repeated primes do appear as targets, thereby lending themselves to the establishment of peripheral stimulus-response mappings. If the source of the masked priming effect were exclusively central or peripheral, then both novel and repeated primes should yield similar patterns of priming. In contrast, we find that both novel and repeated primes produce robust, yet distinct, patterns of priming.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that nonconsciously elicited cognitive processes can be flexibly deployed over both central and peripheral representations within a single task context. While we agree that task-level properties can influence nonconscious processes, our findings sharply constrain the extent of this influence. Specifically, our findings are inconsistent with extant accounts which hold that the influence of task-level properties is strong enough to restrict the deployment of nonconsciously elicited cognitive processes to a single type of representation (i.e. central or peripheral).

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Submovement cumulative amplitude differences from Experiment 1.The difference (incongruent – congruent) in the mean cumulative submovement amplitude is plotted. The shaded regions along the x-axis indicate when the 95% confidence intervals calculated over the difference scores do not include zero.
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pone-0017095-g006: Submovement cumulative amplitude differences from Experiment 1.The difference (incongruent – congruent) in the mean cumulative submovement amplitude is plotted. The shaded regions along the x-axis indicate when the 95% confidence intervals calculated over the difference scores do not include zero.

Mentions: Finally, we used a second dependent measure, cumulative submovement amplitude, to better determine the temporal properties of the MCE for novel and repeated primes. As this is a measure of intent, it provides an earlier window into the decision making process than the path offset measure. Cumulative submovement amplitude is a measure of how far the subject is planning on going towards (or away from) the target. Figure 6 shows the differences in mean (across subjects) cumulative submovement amplitudes between the congruent and incongruent trials. As observed in the path offset analysis, the repeated trials showed an earlier and larger MCE than the novel trials. For the repeated prime stimuli, this difference was significantly greater than zero (using a t-test with 0.05 significance) between 120 ms and 340 ms, while for the novel prime stimuli, this was between 160 ms and 320 ms.


The flexibility of nonconsciously deployed cognitive processes: evidence from masked congruence priming.

Finkbeiner M, Friedman J - PLoS ONE (2011)

Submovement cumulative amplitude differences from Experiment 1.The difference (incongruent – congruent) in the mean cumulative submovement amplitude is plotted. The shaded regions along the x-axis indicate when the 95% confidence intervals calculated over the difference scores do not include zero.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3037407&req=5

pone-0017095-g006: Submovement cumulative amplitude differences from Experiment 1.The difference (incongruent – congruent) in the mean cumulative submovement amplitude is plotted. The shaded regions along the x-axis indicate when the 95% confidence intervals calculated over the difference scores do not include zero.
Mentions: Finally, we used a second dependent measure, cumulative submovement amplitude, to better determine the temporal properties of the MCE for novel and repeated primes. As this is a measure of intent, it provides an earlier window into the decision making process than the path offset measure. Cumulative submovement amplitude is a measure of how far the subject is planning on going towards (or away from) the target. Figure 6 shows the differences in mean (across subjects) cumulative submovement amplitudes between the congruent and incongruent trials. As observed in the path offset analysis, the repeated trials showed an earlier and larger MCE than the novel trials. For the repeated prime stimuli, this difference was significantly greater than zero (using a t-test with 0.05 significance) between 120 ms and 340 ms, while for the novel prime stimuli, this was between 160 ms and 320 ms.

Bottom Line: For example, in tasks with a limited number of targets, subliminal priming effects are limited to primes that are physically similar to the targets.Findings such as these have led researchers to conclude that task-level properties can direct nonconscious processes to be deployed exclusively over central (semantic) or peripheral (physically specified) representations.If the source of the masked priming effect were exclusively central or peripheral, then both novel and repeated primes should yield similar patterns of priming.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. matthew.finkbeiner@mq.edu.au

ABSTRACT

Background: It is well accepted in the subliminal priming literature that task-level properties modulate nonconscious processes. For example, in tasks with a limited number of targets, subliminal priming effects are limited to primes that are physically similar to the targets. In contrast, when a large number of targets are used, subliminal priming effects are observed for primes that share a semantic (but not necessarily physical) relationship with the target. Findings such as these have led researchers to conclude that task-level properties can direct nonconscious processes to be deployed exclusively over central (semantic) or peripheral (physically specified) representations.

Principal findings: We find distinct patterns of masked priming for "novel" and "repeated" primes within a single task context. Novel primes never appear as targets and thus are not seen consciously in the experiment. Repeated primes do appear as targets, thereby lending themselves to the establishment of peripheral stimulus-response mappings. If the source of the masked priming effect were exclusively central or peripheral, then both novel and repeated primes should yield similar patterns of priming. In contrast, we find that both novel and repeated primes produce robust, yet distinct, patterns of priming.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that nonconsciously elicited cognitive processes can be flexibly deployed over both central and peripheral representations within a single task context. While we agree that task-level properties can influence nonconscious processes, our findings sharply constrain the extent of this influence. Specifically, our findings are inconsistent with extant accounts which hold that the influence of task-level properties is strong enough to restrict the deployment of nonconsciously elicited cognitive processes to a single type of representation (i.e. central or peripheral).

Show MeSH